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Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Lawmaker urges rethink of outdated 'spicy measures'

Lawmaker urges rethink of outdated 'spicy measures'

Authorities should review whether "spicy measures" used to suppress property prices have become outdated amid Hong Kong's latest economic and investment atmosphere after three years of Covid and brain drain, lawmaker Louis Loong Hon-biu said.
Loong, representing the real estate and construction sector in the legislature and also the secretary general of the Real Estate Developers Association, commented on a Facebook post.

He said the series of spicy measures launched since late 2010 has shown short-term effects in suppressing property prices, but building construction costs have continued to rise over the past 12 years.

Concurrently, the measures have discouraged transactions in the second-hand property market, as buyers and sellers are not willing to pay extra stamp duty.

He added that the government has been speeding up urban renewal in the city to increase housing supply. Nevertheless, developers were required to pay extra stamp duty when acquiring old buildings.

Although they can apply for a refund of extra stamp duty, it may take years and would indirectly slow down the progress, he said.

"The pandemic and brain drain over the past three years, have discouraged overseas talents and investors from coming to Hong Kong. With the rising global interest rates, the economic and investment environment in Hong Kong today is no longer the same as the times when the spicy measures were first introduced," Loong said.

Meanwhile, think tanks in the city provided recommendations ahead of next week's policy address.

The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors made 10 suggestions on the city's developments in construction, housing and land policies.

The institute said the government should streamline the approval process of development proposals and utilize vacant lands in the New Territories to enhance housing supply.

It said old public housing estates should be redeveloped to shorten the average waiting time for public flats from the current 5.8 years.

Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management urged the government to completely scrap pandemic-related border controls to regain the city's lost talent.

The institute's president, Lawrence Hung Yu-yan, said that the government should increase the ratio of female workers in the labor force and tackle gender pay gap.

The government should take initiatives to hire teenagers and senior employees, to ease the shortage of manpower, he added.

Charity organization Save the Children also urged the government to speed up the legislative process of the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse cases.

The group's recommendation came after the city recorded a total of 1,367 child abuse cases in 2021, a year-on-year increase by 45 percent.

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